Sophomore John Brannen will make his first appearance of the year.
Oct. 16, 2003
The Tennessee men's golf team is set to host the 16th annual Coca-Cola Tournament of Champions, Oct. 20-21, at Holston Hills Country Club. The Vols, a two-time tournament champion, look to claim their first tournament title since winning in 2001.
The Vols are not the only past tournament champion to make an appearance. Southeastern Conference rival Auburn, who is ranked No. 25 in the nation, won in 1991, while intrastate rival East Tennessee State won back-to-back championships in 1995 and 1996.
Head coach Jim Kelson looks forward to the tournament and feels Holston Hills will present a challenge once again to his team, as well as the other participants.
The tournament features seven teams that participated in post season play in 2003. Tennessee, Auburn and Vanderbilt competed in the NCAA Championships, while East Tennessee State, James Madison and defending Southern Conference Champion and 24th-ranked Georgia Southern advanced to the NCAA East Regional. Pepperdine, the defending West Coast Champion, competed in the NCAA West Regional.
Virginia is making its first tournament appearance since 2000. The Cavaliers have finished runner up at the TOC three times, in 1996, 1999 and 2000.
Other teams competing include Memphis, Rice, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Tulane and the Swedish National Team. The Swedish National Team's appearance marks the first time a foreign team has competed in the tournament.
"We are looking forward to hosting the event again at Holston Hills," Kelson said. "The course is in the best shape that we have ever seen. The rough is extremely high and is quite demanding. Fortunately for us, everyone of our players are going to have the chance to compete. We have some new teams competing this year, as well as some district teams, so this is a big event as it is every year."
Tennessee features two teams in this year's event, an orange team and a white team. The orange team, which will count towards NCAA scoring, features two local golfers. Freshmen Ross Cox and Jonathan Mount will be competing for the Vols. Cox, from Knoxville, is coming off a 17th-t place finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate and has a scoring average of 72.83. The Tournament of Champions marks Mount''s first appearance of the season as a Volunteer. Mount is a native of Kingston, Tenn.
"It appears that our players have progressed since the start of the season," Kelson said. "David [Skinns] has really come on the last couple of weeks and is playing really well. We are excited about our young guys, as Jonathan Mount has played really well and we have decided not to redshirt him this year. So we will have two local kids from Knoxville in our starting line up. Jonathan and Ross [Cox] have both really paid attention and will both be a big part of our team this year. We are really looking forward to the challenge of the course and the challenge of the field."
Last season the Vols finished second to SEC rival Georgia. The Vols and Bulldogs shared the lead after the first two rounds of play before Georgia took control, only to hold off a late Volunteer rally during the final nine holes. Skinns finished second in the individual portion of the tournament to Vanderbilt's Brandt Snedeker.
The tournament is free and open to the public. It is a 54-hole format with 36 holes played on Monday and 18 on Tuesday.